The Harlem Dancer And Invocation Analysis

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The Harlem Renaissance was a period from around the end of WWI to about the mid-1930’s where a cultural, social, and artistic explosion took place in Harlem, New York and all across America. This time period saw the emergence of a cultural center for African Americans in the city of Harlem, New York, where black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars all came together for a “rebirth” of African American culture. This “rebirth” kindled a new sense of black identity in all aspects of life, socially, culturally, and intellectually. The cultural explosion brought new themes to black culture including, the stressing of black identity, telling of the effects of racism, the American Dream, and a newfound sense of community…show more content…
Starting off writing mostly about his Jamaican homeland, he moved to the United States for college. After being in the United States for about five years and experiencing social injustices African Americans endured , he published two sonnets in 1917, “The Harlem Dancer” and “Invocation," and later began using that form of writing to write about social and political concerns from his perspective as a black man in the United States (Poets.org). His viewpoints and poetic achievements in the earlier part of the twentieth century set the tone for the Harlem Renaissance and gained the deep respect of younger black poets of the time, including Langston Hughes. Just like Hughes, McKay incorporated many themes that were at the core of the Harlem Renaissance into his writing. One example of his work that shows this is the poem, Enslaved. In this piece, McKay talks about how African Americans have been oppressed throughout history and shows the sadness he has for his people, “My heart grows sick with hate, becomes as lead,/ For this my race that has no home on earth(7-8).” He also wants his people to be liberated and be able to live as equals with white people, which they've been denied the right to do. Another poem which shows how the themes of the Harlem Renaissance shaped his writing is If We Must Die. In this piece, McKay talks about how he doesn’t want black people to die in vain like that had been throughout history but rather let them die with honor and dignity because they matter just as much as the white people, or “the murderous, cowardly pack”. In the line, “ If we must die-let it not be like hogs/ Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,/ While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,/ Making their mock at our accursed lot./ If we must die-oh, let us nobly die(1-5)”, McKay tells of how he wants his people to die nobly rather than having white
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